Adam is a single father. Last month, his only child left home to study at university. Since then, Adam has been stricken by feelings of grief and loneliness.
Adam is experiencing empty nest syndrome.What can the people around him do to help?
What is Empty Nest Syndrome?
According to the Mayo Clinic, "empty nest syndrome is a stage of sadness and loss that parents often experience when their last child (or the only child) leaves home."
If the people around Adam help him find ways to cope and get support, he'll be able to make it through this challenging stage of his life.
The Psychology Behind It
Adam's son Ray notices that his father hasn't seemed himself since he left for university. He decides to call his father's psychologist friend, Kade.
Kade explains that empty nest syndrome isn't a clinical diagnosis, but a normal phase of life that many adults experience.
Common signs of empty next syndrome include:
Worry or anxiety over the child's well-being
A loss of purpose and meaning in life
Increased tensions with their significant other
Ray agrees that his dad has been showing some of these signs. He realizes his dad is going through a tough time and wants to help his father deal with his feelings.
True or False: empty nest syndrome is a psychiatric condition that can only be treated with the help of a doctor.
Ray asks Kade for advice. Kade offers some strategies that can help empty nesters cope:
Accept that their feelings are normal
Acknowledge that their parenting role has changed, not ended
Keep in touch with their children (calls, emails, video chats, etc.)
Find a new hobby or take a class
Volunteer for a meaningful cause
Reestablish old friendships
Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drugs, alcohol, or smoking
Supporting Empty Nester Parents
Ray decides to take the following actions to help his dad copewith empty nest syndrome:
Stay in touch by calling or texting at least once a week
Suggest that his dad pursue new hobbies or interests
Remind him that he loves him
Remember him on special days
What else could you do to help an empty nester parent cope? Select all that apply.
Empty nest syndrome can be a tough period of time for parents, but it can also present them with opportunities, like establishing new friendships and finding new hobbies.
If you think your parent is going through a phase of empty nest syndrome, encourage them to: